NEW JERSEY — Nearly 2.5 million New Jersey residents are expected to travel during the holiday season, according to AAA. Despite one fewer travel day this holiday season, this represents a 1.5 percent increase – or 1.5 million more people traveling – compared to 2015. This year’s holiday travel period is defined as Friday, Dec. 23 to Monday, Jan. 2, 2017.

The increase in holiday travel this year is being driven by additional consumer spending, a result of improvements in the labor market and rising wages. Additionally, low gas prices and increased consumer optimism will prompt more Americans than ever to set out on road trips, take to the skies, or board trains, buses and cruise ships to celebrate the holidays.

“’Tis the season for holiday travel, and this year more Americans plan to travel to celebrate the holidays and ring in the New Year than ever before,” said Cathleen Lewis, Director of Public Affairs and Government Relations for AAA Northeast. “Rising incomes and continued low gas prices should make for a joyous holiday travel season.”

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Travel by the Numbers

Automobile
New Jersey – 2,225,441 (90% of all travelers), a 0.3% increase from 2015.
Nationally – 93.5 million (90.7% of all travelers), a 1.5% increase from last year.

Air
New Jersey – 166,275 (7% of all travelers), a 1.1% increase from last year.
Nationally – 6.05 million (5.9% of all travelers), a 2.5% increase from 2015.

Train, Bus or Other 
New Jersey – 79,827 (3% of all travelers), a 0.7% decrease from the 2015 holiday period.
Nationally – 3.5 million (3.4% of all travelers), a decrease of 0.8% from 2015.

In New Jersey, the current average price for a gallon of gas is $2.33, 44 cents more than the average price this same time last year ($1.89). In fact, New Year’s gas prices will be the second-cheapest in nearly a decade; in 2009, the national average was $1.62. AAA estimates U.S. drivers have saved more than $27 billion at the gas pumps so far this year compared to the same period last year.  

Close to 1 Million Rescues Anticipated This Holiday Season
AAA expects to rescue more than 980,000 motorists over the 11-day holiday period, with the primary reasons being dead batteries, flat tires and lockouts. To avoid holiday breakdowns, AAA recommends drivers have their vehicles inspected by a trusted repair shop. 

For motorists who may encounter winter weather conditions during their holiday road trips, AAA recommends checking windshield wipers and inspecting tires to ensure safe drivability before setting out. Pack an emergency kit containing a snow shovel, flashlight, ice scraper, jumper cables, warning devices and extra warm clothing for everyone riding in the vehicle. When driving, slow down and do not tailgate. Leave following distances to a minimum of five to six seconds to allow additional braking room should a sudden stop become necessary.

Don’t Drive Drunk and Don't Drive Drowsy
Before hitting the road, drivers should also get plenty of sleep to avoid driving drowsy. Research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that drivers who miss just one to two hours of the recommended seven hours of sleep nearly double their risk for a crash. For long trips, drivers should travel at times when normally awake, schedule a break every two hours or every 100 miles, avoid heavy foods, travel with an alert passenger and take turns driving, and avoid medications that cause drowsiness or other impairment.